Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Shame vs. Conviction

The distinction was reiterated once more, this time in my formation group. I think I could benefit from meditating on this issue.

Shame = an underlying notion of character deficiency; The shameful person believes there is something inherently wrong with him or her; It is guilt that leads to death.

Conviction = an uneasiness or disappointment of one's choice or action; The convicted person realizes a behavioral failures/mistake; It is guilt that leads to repentance.

2 Cor 7:8-11:
Even if I caused you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it. Though I did regret it—I see that my letter hurt you, but only for a little while— yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us. Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done. At every point you have proved yourselves to be innocent in this matter.
Why is it so hard to "go there"? I can write pages about how the principle should play out in theory, but when it comes to assessing my own life and my own feelings, I hesitate. I think I buy into shame more than I do conviction. It is hard to shake off shame when so often those things we do that we hate seem unavoidable; it is true bondage. It is easy to buy into the lie that there is something wrong with you when you can't measure up to the standard you set for yourself. I don't know who will read this. More than being embarrassed that I often feel incompetent, I wonder if a non-Christian viewing this would be confused, for they view themselves differently than I do myself. I wonder if they feel the pressure to measure up in some fashion, like I do according to the Biblical model of a godly, regenerate representative of God's Kingdom. I wonder if it just doesn't matter, or they have no aspiration for self-improvement, for they don't get their sense of happiness from realizing an increased spiritually healthy state. Are they then free to just be and subsequently find a sense of happiness, or are free to improve without even trying?

What role does Satan play in twisting states for Christians? Does he invest more resources in distorting truth for the Christian, to sabotage the potential witness that believer may bring? Do we Christians have it harder than all other types of people in the world? I get that there are those who face hunger and disease and war, disasters and crime... I realize that my state could be much worse. I realize I could be on the street and not know where my next meal will come from. I realize I could be without a car and dependent on government aid and public transportation to make ends meat. I, however, know for a fact that poverty speaks very little to one's happiness, for I have been in fellowship with significantly poorer people from Nicaragua who were happier than most people I encounter in the US.

I don't expect this shame that I feel to just drop off me (unless, Jesus, you want to do that for me), but what I can choose to do is to proclaim the truth and start the healing process. I am a Child of God, a co-heir with Christ, who has the seal of the Holy Spirit, dwelling within me, who never leaves me and intercedes for me with groans that go beyond words. I am deeply loved. There is nothing that I can do, there is no depths of depravity that I can sink that will render void my saintly status of blessed. Nothing can separate me from Christ's love, not even my ignorance that it is always there, conquering though I'm blind of the results. There is no condemnation for those in Christ, and indeed, I am in Christ. I am abiding in Jesus, my vine and sustenance, for I am continually filled with the truth of God and the ways of the Kingdom. I believe and act on my faith in Christ Jesus by confessing with my heart and lips the glory of my King, who has begun establishing His Heavenly Kingdom of truth and justice. I am free, for Christ has set me free in the inner man. I no longer sin, but rather it is the sin in me, in my carnal flesh, that does evil. I eagerly await the resurrection body that I may be fully free and integrated physically with who I am now, the spiritual new life I have in Christ. ALL of my failures are forgiven and not counted against me. It grieves the Holy Spirit, but God's longsuffering is patient and enduring, able to withstand centuries of offense, for the sake of displaying His glory and worth as Sovereign Ruler, for He delivers His people, those who call upon the Name of Jesus for mercy and grace, which He gives abundantly. My God is mighty and awful. His majesty humbles me, for I am found in His favor, considered a prince. His love reigns. It is His kindness that leads me to repentance, for I trust that He believes in me, and His joy strengthens me.

Even if I amount to nothing in life, and according to the world, I have failed life miserably, I am confident that my Daddy will receive me with open arms and royal robes when this age fades.